Why we should protect them

THE United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees defines a refugee as a person who "owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality and is unable to or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country …"

Some of us have failed to differentiate between refugees and economic migrants. Refugees flee from their country because of fear of persecution while economic migrants are those who leave their country in search of better opportunities and lifestyle, and are able to return to their home country at any time.

Regardless of the refugees' nationality, race, ethnicity, and religion we should always help them and allow safe passage. Many people flee their home country when they are unable to seek their own government's protection or such protection is not forthcoming.

In worst-case scenarios, the authorities who are duty-bound to protect their citizens are also involved in the persecution.

Sadly, there are over 22.5 million refugees worldwide.

Many countries argue that because they have not signed the Refugee Convention they are not bound by it.

They do not realise the potential good refugees can bring into their country. They are an untapped resource and can contribute to their country of asylum. Many refugees are qualified teachers, scientists, football coaches and chefs.

Let's change our perception and help refugees the best way we can.

Roslan Mohamad
Petaling Jaya